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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Friends of Finsbury Park to Mount Legal Challenge to Wireless

The Friends of Finsbury Park want to stop the Wireless Concert occupying "a third" of the park for two week in mid-summer

The Friends of Finsbury Park have set a course to mount a legal challenge to Haringey Council's renting out Finsbury Park for the Wireless Festival

The Friends say of the Wireless Festival, "It is almost impossible to comprehend its vast scale and the impact it has on Finsbury Park. Last year’s Wireless Festival covered almost one third of the size of the Park, surrounded by an oppressive 8ft high green metal barrier to keep Park users out, in some areas stretching as far as the eye could see. 

"Many local residents don't have gardens so the park serves as a vital outdoor amenity, and as events such as Wireless Festival take weeks to set up and take down the public is denied access to what should be public space.

"Last year’s Wireless Festival, which was held over two summer weekends, attracted crowds of 50,000 per day causing massive disruption, damage, excessive noise, and antisocial behaviour in streets surrounding the Park.

Relationships between the Friends group and the Council have long been frosty. But now it appears they are breaking down altogether with meetings being cut short or cancelled and now a legal challenge. A spokesman for the friends group said "We've tried everything to get Haringey Council to enter into discussions with us, but they refuse to listen, stopping all public consultation and ignoring stakeholder groups, local residents and park users".

The group is now launching a legal challenge to stop the Council staging the festival and similar major events in Finsbury Park. I am not clear at this stage what the basis of the legal challenge is, but I'm guessing the clue might well be in a recent statement:

Finsbury Park is a public park that was formed by virtue of the Finsbury Park Act 1857; it is registered as a Grade II Historic Park and Garden and is also Metropolitan Open Land.

The group say they will have to pay up to £35,000 plus VAT for issuing the proceedings and having a one day hearing in the High Court. To raise the required monies, a crowdfunfing page was set up on Monday. As of today the page has attracted over £5,000 funding, about 12% of the total amount they may require.

Alongside the preparations for the legal challenge, the friends group have also lodged an official objection to the festival. 

Tags for Forum Posts: finsbury park, finsbury park events, wireless festival

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My understanding is that the Friends' Group has repeatedly offered to enter into dialogue with Haringey to reach some reasonable compromise. But that these approaches have not been responded to. If I'm mistaken then can someone from the Council give set out the facts here.

These would in any case emerge in the "discovery" phase of the case. But at this stage, genuine transparency and a willingness to find a reasonable compromise - and I'd stress the word 'reasonable' - may save very large sums on lawyers. Money which neither side in this dispute has.

The point about Haringey being sued by Wireless is plainly a serious concern. But only if the contract has been agreed. I am unsure if this is yet the case.

As they're selling tickets I would assume that this is the case

It's wise to always be aware of false friends..

Especially if they just turn out be a nimby minority.

Out of interest why should the council enter into dialogue? Self appointed group seeks self aggrandising position?

Why should any local council try to set up a dialogue with groups of residents who happen to disagree with its actions and policies?

  • Meeting with people who disagree, and open-minded mutual listening is often a good way to learn and improve decisions.
  • Not all residents are always wrong; and not all councillors and senior council officers are always right.
  • Sometimes (not always, of course) there are win-win solutions.
  • Local Councils are legally required to consult
  • Local Councils are legally required to act reasonably
  • If and when a dispute reaches a courtroom, a judge might not be sympathetic if she or he forms the view that an obdurate council has refused to consider differing viewpoints.
  • Looking for ways round and through disputes can save time, effort and legal fees.
  • Parks are common land for which councils are stewards both for now and in the future. They shouldn't be treated simply as assets to be exploited and "sweated".
  • "Now they took all the trees and put 'em in a tree museum. And they charged all the people a dollar and a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWwUJH70ubM

I think Alan, you set out well the desirability, even duty, of Councils to be responsive to residents.

There are of course those who have a statist disposition. The state and its organs are always right, that are the law and any resistance is, if not futile, at least rude. Those who challenge should be marginalised or suppressed. Intermediate groups get in the way of the smack of firm government. These folk are from both the left and the right of politics.

Then there are those who understand the virtues of a pluralist soceity where there are a variety of smaller and intermediate-sized bodies between the indivdiual and the rulers. Things like clubs, Trusts, charities, associations, trade-unions and other organisations that represent collective voices.

Mr. Hoyle you mislead readers with your implications that the Friends of Finsbury Park somehow lacks legitimacy . 

You have claimed that the Friends are self-appointed and unaccountable. This is untrue.

The Friends were founded in 1986. The Friends are a limited company and a registered charity. The Chairman is Tom Palin and the long-time Patron is the MP for North Islington (the Rt. Hon. Jeremy Corbyn).

The 10-strong Management Committee and the new Chair were elected by 50 (fifty) people at the Annual General Meeting in January, held in the FinFuture premises in Seven Sisters Road.

In the first instance, the Committee is accountable to the ordinary membership—that numbers approximately 400 (four hundred) and climbing. That membership is spread mainly over three Boroughs: Hackney, Haringey and Islington.

As a Registered Charity, the Friends are accountable to the Charity Commission; as a Registered Company the Friends are accountable to Companies House. The Friends hold regular, scheduled, minuted meetings.

In 2015, the Friends were selected as a charity for support by the Stroud Green Women's Institute, who kindly raised money for us at their Xmas fair. The current campaign is endorsed by the Highbury Community Association. David Lammy MP has recently made remarks to local press, supportive to our cause (the Hackney and Islington Gazettes).

The above account is unlikely to prevent you from repeating your nonsensical accusations, but it might inform others. 

I would only add that the one or few individual(s) who snipe at the Friends and who hide(s) behind one or more pseudonyms, are truly unelected and unaccountable.

Clive Carter
Member of Haringey Council
Member of the Friends of Finsbury Park

Mr. Hoyle I appreciate that you are implacably hostile to the Friends of Finsbury Park. It is unlikely that anything would ever satisfy you, so I do not make the following point for your benefit, but felt I should add it to my sketch of The Friends' legitimacy for others' benefit.

It's so obvious I overlooked it: The Friends of Finsbury Park have long been recognised as a properly and formally constituted group by Haringey Council, with whom much correspondence has been engaged. 

Some of that may be published in open Court, but I should point out—for those interested in the case—that the relevant legislation is likely to be tested first by The Friends of Battersea Park (q.v.).

Three Members of the Friends appeared before the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Review on Finsbury Park Major Events and gave evidence. Deputations to both that Committee and to the Council Cabinet have been received and heard. It's in the public domain.

(The Council have never questioned the legitimacy of the Friends).

You are still a self-appointed group. And genuine criticism is not sniping. As an opposing councilllor you should know that in these current time of austerity, there is a critical need to raise revenues, yet you are willing to lose a substantial revenue stream and waste council money on legal fees because you have a problem sharing. We live in a borough of extremes, from areas of high poverty to the riches in the west and 1000s of people with diverse needs and preferences. But the 'friends' could care less, with your myopic views and interests.

How do the 'friends' propose to plug the gap in vital revenues, if you get your way. This is not about paving over the park or removing green spaces but opening it up for two short weeks for 1000s of young people to enjoy themselves.

Patrick Wong
Park User

I'm inclined to agree with Pat on this one.

This isn't about the freedom fighters standing up for the rights of many against the state. This is about a few killjoys who want to control how people have fun and would ideally take control of the park to shape it to their own vision. Two weeks out of 52 and you begrudge the younger generation that. You talk of residents rights but are willing to trample over mine, as a resident, because it doesn't fit you myopic view. friends who are less than friendly.
Pat nails it with this post.



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